The Return of Classic Cocktails
The Necessary Gadgets
While you're out buying the right glasses for your bar, you may as well start collecting the necessary gadgets. Without them, your Manhattan may taste more like the bottom of the Hudson River.
A jigger is an essential for the beginning home barkeep. Usually made of a metal stem with a small hourglass-shape double cup at each end, the jigger is used to measure drink ingredients. One side is a 1 1/2 -ounce jigger; the other is a 1-ounce pony. A shot glass marked with measurements is another options.
A cocktail shaker, either the functional Boston shaker or the more aesthetic standard shaker, is a must. The Boston variety is preferred by most professional drink makers. If you opt for this style, you'll also need a cocktail strainer, which fits over the shaker glass. On a standard shaker, the strainer is built in. You'll also need a muddler, the stick-shape tool used to crush ingredients (such as the mint leaves in a mint julep) or to break up sugar cubes and bitters. It can also be used for cracking ice. Swizzle sticks add a funky nonedible garnish to many drinks. You can go cheap with plastic toss-aways or invest in classy glass sticks.
A simple long-handled metal bar spoon is a must for stirring cocktails and creating layered drinks such as the pousse-cafe. It can also double as a muddler in a pinch. To really show that you know your stuff, get a glass stirring rod, which is preferred by cocktail connoisseurs when stirring carbonated drinks (the metal spoon reacts badly with the bubbles).
For frozen drinks, such as daiquiris and margaritas, get a sturdy blender that is good at crushing ice. Many bar blenders have a single speed.